P.E.I. tourism operators weigh risks of accepting bookings from outside Atlantic Canada

·2 min read
The Atlantic bubble is due to reopen by April 19. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
The Atlantic bubble is due to reopen by April 19. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

Tourism operators on P.E.I. have been taking "quite a few" bookings from outside Atlantic Canada while at the same time concerned that those reservations will have to be cancelled — and perhaps not refilled — if borders restrictions remain in place this summer.

Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., says it's a challenge for operators hoping for a better season than they had in 2020.

"That's exactly the struggle that a lot of our operators are having right now with those uncertainties — do they say no to those outside of Atlantic Canada and not take those bookings and focus strictly on Atlantic Canada? Or do they take those bookings with the hope that the border opens?"

Clemence said the bookings show people are optimistic, and there is the demand and interest in visiting P.E.I. She said ultimately it's up to each individual operator how they handle the bookings.

"Certainly from an industry standpoint, we don't want to give the impression that we're not open and welcoming to those outside. It's just really based on those restrictions. It's a challenge."

You need to get that human interaction and get a sense from both the businesses and, you know, potential job seekers on where it might be a good fit. — Corryn Clemence, TIAPEI

If all goes well, the Atlantic bubble is due to reopen by April 19. Whether P.E.I. opens to other provinces beyond that is still up in the air.

TIAPEI is moving ahead with an in-person job fair April 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown. A second job fair is planned for next month in Cavendish.

About 40 businesses have already signed up, Clemence said. Public health measures will be in place, with only about 50 participants through at a time, but Clemence said it's important to hold the fair in person.

"It's the nature of our industry, right, it's tourism and hospitality, you need to get that human interaction and get a sense from both the businesses and, you know, potential job seekers on where it might be a good fit."

The industry has lobbied for a continuation of the federal wage subsidy program. TIAPEI has also hired a tourism operator adviser to help businesses navigate different programs that might be available to help them.

More from CBC P.E.I.